One of the dicier projects in the great crap shoot of parenting is teaching kids the value of money. There’s no guarantee that, even if they grow up knowing its procurement and use doesn’t necessarily involve bookies and repo men, they won’t wind up in a credit counseling infomercial one day. Nevertheless, they need to be aware that it’s a more responsible process than merely extending an upturned palm toward that human ATM hunched over his bank statement in the kitchen.
Unfortunately for today’s parents, current child labor laws prevent kids from being employed till they’re teenagers. In the old days children were too wiped from baling hay or pushing a mine cart for twelve hours to look at a penny, let alone spend it. And whatever coppers they earned went toward funding Pa’s bourbon or laudanum habit. Now, of course, they have the leisure and fizz to twirl a shopping cart around Hollister and Best Buy till it far outweighs a bushel of bituminous.
Against such odds, teaching your kids good financial habits is like being down 0-2 to Bartolo Colon in his prime. At least two time-honored ways do exist, however, to acquaint offspring with lucre from an early age.
There are two conflicting schools of thought here. One believes that an allowance should have no relationship to chores and behavior (unless, of course, you find junior is masterminding jewelry heists across the lower forty-eight. In which case, he may need it for hush money). It should be a sort of cosmic acknowledgment of kids’ consuming presence, a casting of entrails upon their existential piranha pool.
The other holds that it should be used to reinforce positive activity--- not leaving orange rinds and zit cream in the kitchen utensil drawer, doing homework without being bastinadoed, mowing the lawn before it obscures the house. Advocates of this approach believe it teaches youngsters that money doesn’t grow on trees, or at least has to be harvested.
I wouldn’t know. The idea of giving someone money for the pleasure of their company seems more appropriate to escort services. And you can offer your kids the equivalent of a fixed annuity and still wind up being a nag tape loop to motivate them. At week’s end you feel like giving yourself an allowance as a reward.
By the way, when did allowances get Consumer Price Indexed? It’s apparently not unusual for teenagers to get fifteen to twenty dollars a week as spending money. Are fake IDs that expensive now?
Another way to acquaint progeny with spondulicks is to encourage small-scale entrepreneurship. Activities such as hawking lemonade and iced tea and selling old toys--- in addition to halcyon days in the sun and pocket money--- can provide valuable experience in rooking the public.
The downside is that you may come home to find your cupboards devoid of food and your attic bereft of heirlooms. You may also discover, while surfing eBay, a boat remarkably similar to yours for sale, but without the Bimini top, which your kids found makes a killer canopy for their snack stand.
For better and worse, Anna has befriended a girl who, though barely in the sixth grade, is already a candidate for The Apprentice. Her business acumen makes futures traders look like Mary Kay dropouts. For example:
I’m not sure such mercenariness teaches kids real respect for money. But it can at least put a bit in their bite on us. Before we buy the horse farm.